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Amblyopia – also known as “Lazy Eye”

The eye disorder Amblyopia is an odd disorder because there […]

By Published On: 14 April 20122.7 min read

The eye disorder Amblyopia is an odd disorder because there is nothing really wrong with the eye.  The fault lies in the way the messages get from the eye to the brain. Research into this eye issue has indeed shown that amblyopia is a disorder of the brain.

If the fault in the eye is prolonged then the brain switches off its connection to that eye so that mixed messages aren’t received that might lead to things such as double vision.

As eyes develop in a child up until the age of two, both eyes work toward gaining connections to the brain and if one eye fails to “gain enough brain space” then the more developed eye takes over the job of providing images, to the detriment of the less developed eye, and gives rise to the term “lazy eye”.

Amblyopia is sometimes confused with another eye disorder called strabismus, which describes the condition of the eyes being misaligned. The confusion comes from the misuse of the term “lazy eye” in describing strabismus.

Symptoms to look for

Symptoms are very difficult to establish since of course very young children are not aware of any seeing deficiency that they may have, and cannot communicate about it.

Although strabismus and amblyopia are different disorders, strabismus being the misalignment of the eyes may itself lead to amblyopia, hence a slightly “crossed eyes” appearance may be an initial symptom.

A really good giveaway symptom is a child becoming annoyed or irritated if one eye that turns out to be the “good eye” is covered, but not so if the “lazy eye” is covered.


If the amblyopia was caused by the eyes having different visual capacity, with one eye being either near or farsighted (called a refractive eye error) then it can be treated by optometrist prescription glasses or even contact lenses.

In almost all cases however the use of a cover up patch over the good eye to let the less developed eye catch up in development is a feature of treatment. The covering up process needs to be prolonged for a period of a number of months.

With children of course, the use of an eye patch can be a problem in terms of embarrassment and annoyance. Non-compliant difficult children can benefit from special eye drops to do the job or the use of a designed contact lens that acts as a cover patch but still actually looks normal to others – embarrassment avoided!
Recently an extensive study into patching for amblyopia revealed that only a few hours a day is required to achieve the optimal visual result.  This has revolutionised amblyopia treatment

If the cause of the amblyopia is a strabismus (turned eye) then corrective eye surgery to straighten the eye misalignment can also be an option.

Diagnosing amblyopia

The earlier an amblyopia is detected, the better!

Amblyopia is a disorder, not a disease, that will not cure itself over time, so needs effective treatment.

This is all well and good, but treatment may prove difficult with very young children; testing children’s eyes before the age of 5 or 6 can be difficult.  Without adequate eye testing treatment is likely to be inaccurate.  Luckily specialised paediatric tests do exist that allow treatment to proceed with confidence.



  1. Jessica Zhang 31 December 2012 at 4:48 am - Reply

    It will be really appreciated if any one can send me the contact details for a lazy eye treatment specialist. Thank you.

  2. Fiona Crowley 10 September 2013 at 4:49 am - Reply

    Hi Jim,
    I also found this site as I am looking for a specialist regarding amblyopia. I live in Glenorie NSW 2157. Are you able to recommend someone in my area?
    Many thanks

  3. Amit 5 June 2014 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Hi Jim,
    I need to find a specialist regarding Amblyopia in QLD (Townsville).I am 30 yrs. and have tried most methods but no progress and having vision issues with my normal eye. I had to start wearing glasses.


  4. Cara 8 August 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Hi I am in Melbourne outer east suburbs.
    Would you know of a specialist for a 30 year old with a lazy eye

    • Jim Kokkinakis 12 August 2017 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Look up behavioural optometrist melbourne, they will be able to help you.

  5. Shubham 14 March 2020 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    I am also suffering from lazy eye
    Please send me contact detail of eye specialist for lazy eye treatmeny.
    Thank you

    • Jim Kokkinakis 3 May 2020 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Where are you from?

  6. Zack 16 June 2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Hi there, I’m 20 years old and I have a lazy eye, i think it’s getting worse as I get older and people notice a lot , the eye lid kind of drops down aswell, I know the vision cannot get better in the lazy eye but I just want them to work together and look normal. Can you lead me in the direction of any specialists in Melbourne that could help me! I’m looking at surgery to fix it knowing the vision won’t get better

    • Jim Kokkinakis 27 August 2020 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Zack
      I am not sure who would do this type of surgery in Melbourne, but I can highly recommend my colleague Dr Mark Roth, who will assess you and be able to refer you to the appropriate surgical eye specialist if this is your best option.

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